Pani puri is straight street food, known by various other names throughout India. When you order it, the vendor will deep-fry three or four ‘puri’ (hollow, round pastry puffs) until crisp, fill or top them with a big dollop of spiced potato (‘aloo’) and serve them up with raita and a flavoured mint sauce known as ‘pani’. Variations abound, but the taste explosion is always heavenly.
To make the pani, mash the soaked tamarind pulp with your hands and remove the seeds. Strain the pulp into a bowl and set aside. Using a blender or mortar and pestle, grind the mint leaves to a smooth paste with
For the puri, put the semolina in a mixing bowl, add
Roll the rested dough into 20 balls about the size of golf balls, then roll each one out into a small chapatti using a rolling pin.
To cook the puri, heat the vegetable oil in a deep heavy-based saucepan to 180°C (350°F), or until a cube of bread dropped into the oil turns brown in 15 seconds.
Without overcrowding the pan, cook three or four puri at a time, for about 3 minutes, until they turn brown, gently pushing them under the oil with a slotted spoon until they puff and turn crisp. Drain on paper towel and keep warm. For the potato filling, peel the potatoes and place in a bowl. Add the salt and chilli powder and mash, then set aside.
Heat the coconut oil in a frying pan over medium heat and fry the mustard seeds for a minute or two, until they start to pop. Add the onion and dried chilli pieces and cook for 3 minutes, or until the onion is golden. Tip the mixture over the mashed potato and mix together well. Sprinkle with chaat masala and check the seasoning. Keep warm.
For each serving, take two or three puri and gently push them into each other, into a stack of crispy goodness. (This is how you’d get them in a street food stall — but if you want to show them off, just place them on a plate, side by side.) Dollop with the potato filling and raita. Serve with a small bowl of pani.
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